Sunday, June 18, 2017

Big Bar Lake, British Columbia

“I want to go canoeing. I’ve not even used the Honda 2.3 hp motor I got 2 years ago.” I told Laura after shipping my AB hard bottomed inflatable with 30 hp Honda 4 stroke motor down to Hay Bay family in Ontario.
After I’d put up pictures on FB of that boat being loaded for transport, my friend Kirk texted me,
“You are on the westcoast boatless now?”
He is ever enjoying his canvas ocean kayak. We’ve sailed in my SV GIRI together on the Strait of Georgia. We’d actually begun canoeing together on Minaki Lake as children. Boating is in the Laidlaw and Hay blood. The Scottish islander genes or some such thing. Maybe a touch of the Viking.
“I’ve still got the Kevlar canoe.” I texted him back.
I’d bought the Clipper Canoe from Western Canoe Store in Abbotsford several years ago. I specifically got that design because it was deep and sturdy enough to carry a moose if I used the canoe for hunting. Reminiscing Laura and I figured I’ve only used it three or four times since I bought it. When I was in Manitoba and Ontario I had a Grummond Aluminum canoe and loved white water and lake canoing.
With the SV Giri on land, I wanted to get the canoe out of the storage locker and give it a go.
I’d had a Friday off because a Supreme Court case I was due to be an expert witness in was settled. Rather than rebook I felt the need for a long weekend.
Thursday I had been at my dear friend, George’s celebration of life at the Gleneagle Golf Club. With false accusations and death threats at work and a greedy landlady renting me an office without proper zoning I’d really not felt I’d had time to even grieve my brother’s loss in late fall. I’d been in survival mode ever since. Then Richard died this last week in a freak accident. A competition shooter and gun safety instructor, he’d accidentally shot himself fatally in a competition meet. I figured I could use an extra day off and Laura was glad to take a day off herself.
It was time for a break. If only for a day.
Gilbert has glaucoma and is scheduled to have his left eye removed next Tuesday.
“We need to give him a dog’s weekend ,” Laura said. She’s his momma. He begins howling in the car when we’re dozens of blocks from her apartment. When he sees her he can’t contain himself.
I was delighted to use the BC Provincial Campground on line booking service. We love Clinton. Bill Mewhort my dear departed hunting guide friend had introduced me to the region 30 years ago. Staying at Circle H ranch with him I’d shot my first moose. It’s the most incredible mixture of terrain, woods and meadows and high cattle country.
I’d never stayed at Big Bar Lake. I’d stopped there and seen how beautiful the pine and spruce circled rocky lake is. A perfect place for canoeing and fishing.
George’s Celelbration of Life was Thursday. Seeing all the friends we shared in common, so many he’d introduced me to and some I’d known before was emotionally troubling. I’d cried on the way home. There’s a loneliness that comes when the greats I’ve known pass.
The skies opened and a deluge of rain fell as if even the sky was crying his loss. Heaven is so much richer now. I long to see these men again there. Along with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I often dream of the departed.
Laura arrived Friday morning in her little red Smart Car.
“The traffic was horrible,” she said.
Driving to the storage locker we got caught in the tail end of the mess an accident on Iron Workers Bridge had caused. I was in my new white Ford 350 truck enjoying the music I’d uploaded to my phone blue tooth linked to the truck’s system. Beatles. Amy Grant, Gordon Lightfoot, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Third Day. It made the traffic jam more palatable.
At the storage locker I had to back out the Honda 500 Pioneer to get at the canoe. My storage locker is half files and half recreational gear. I keep thinking of getting rid of the scuba gear thinking I’m unlikely to be doing northern scuba diving any time soon. South seas yes but cold water no.
Coleman camp stove, truck tent, air mattresses, lanterns, gas and water tanks, sleeping bags and canoe. It was an hour sorting and loading but then we were on our way.
I stopped to pick up a hunting license and a rifle as it still is bear season and Laura is afraid of bears. I don’t particularly want to shoot a bear but if one were bothering our camp I’d be glad to eat it. My friend says the bear he shot is incredibly tasty. I do like the ham. But this weekend I’m fishing.
At Cabelas I made a stop and couldn’t resist another tent. This one a North Face 4 man Murin. The two man tent I have is great for Laura and I motorcycling but just a little too cramped for hanging out. The truck tent is great but this weekend I didn’t have “Charles”, the Honda PIoneer so could see myself wanting to drive the truck. Any excuse for another tent.
I’d just given my new 6 man tent to the god kids. Tom and I used it once and it was more a family affair. I just couldn’t see taking the time to set it up unless I was camping for a week whereas it really would be perfect for the god kids camping especially if they’re doing a road trip across Canada. It was the kind of tent our family had with the screened in porch where Mom served meals.
I got Laura a ‘Bear Banger” . The bear banger is an inexpensive pen like noise maker and tiny flare launcher. I’d picked up my Ruger rifle with 223 shells, not a bear gun by any means but fun for target practice and would if needed bag a bear.. I always remember Grandad shot bear with a 22 Rifle.
At Western Canoe in Abbotsford I picked up another paddle. I also had lost a foam support that allowed me to carry the canoe on the roof safely. I replaced my jury rig with the right pad.
With those stops done we had a beautiful drive up the old number #1, along the Thompson River. I love that route. It’s just grand seeing the incredible rapids and rising out of the valley rain forest to the high sage country.
“I love watching the train going through the tunnels on the other side of the river, “ said Laura.
We stopped to let Gilbert sniff and pee at some rest stops. He really did enjoy the ride.
At Cache creek we stopped at the Market for groceries. It was surprisingly already 6 pm. I’d planned to get up here around 3 pm. But it was so much better than our last camping trip when I’d put up the truck tent at 3 am near Lillouet.
In Clinton the grocery store was still open so I filled up with gas and got some frozen pork chops in addition to what we already had..
Laura pointed ou the Catholic church we’d attended once while we were here. We’d stayed in Cariboo Lodge then. Another time I’d brought up the RV and stayed in the townsite RV park.
We spotted a deer as we headed into the back roads. Gilbert was sitting in the middle of the front seat looking seriously in hunting mode. When we came on a herd of cattle with all the young ones he almost jumped out of the window to join them. He loves cows.
“When he was a puppy he saw his first cow and ran like a bullet to plunge beneath the hot stream of poo the cow was producing. Fearing the cow would back up and step on him I raced after him to retrieve this stinking gooey dog from dog heaven. I make a point of keeping him away from cows ever since,” I told Laura.
“I can see why”.
We drove by Circle H Ranch and the Big Bar Dude Ranch. The horses they have there are really beautiful.
At Big Bar Provincial camp we drove in and immediately met the lovely attendant who sold us three bundles of wood.
It was beginning to rain. Laura was not impressed with putting up a new tent in the rain. Thankfully it only spit and rather quickly we had this stupendous North Face Murin up . I love it. I blew up air mattresses and Laura set up our tent with Gilbert helping her at every turn.
She wasn’t a happy camper at that point.
I boiled up some hot dogs and put them in buns with mustard in front of her. She began to come around. I started a fire with the help of gasoline encouragement. She liked that. It was chilly and she and Gilbert went into the tent to bed.
She was thinking about bears. Gilbert and I were too but more as predators than victims.
I got the Coleman lantern going so was able to stay up late reading my novel and murder mystery set in Toronto in the 1830’s , “Vital Secrets”, by Dong Gutteridge.
After I put out the lantern and doused the last of the fire with water, I crawled into the tent to find Gilbert cuddled up against Laura leaving no room for me. He accepted that I could come in and left an edge of the air mattress for me. He lay between Laura and me in dog heaven.
It was 4 am when Gilbert decided we should get up. Dawn light was coming through the tent. He began licking my face. When i turend over he licked my ears. So I got up.
I took him for a walk in the back woods before returning to sit meditating as the sun rose.
With the help of a neighbour, we were the only two up, we carried the canoe down to the shore. I loaded it up with lifejackets, fishing gear and the Honda motor.
Back in camp, nn the Coleman I made a couple of expresso coffee and just enjoyed the morning for a bit. Before I left in the canoe with Gilbert I set up a coffee for Laura. I told her we were going and left the truck keys with her.
Gilbert and I got out in the canoe. First it was paddling. I wasn’t able to start the motor. Later after a whole lot of tugging, I figured I had the gas valve turned to the off position. I fished with the Shakespeare Rod for a bit casting but eventually had the fun of trolling with the motor going. Gilbert kept jumping from side to side threatening to tip us as I was twisting about running the motor with one hand and trolling with the other. It eventually got the rod holder working by cutting off the heel of the rod which hadn’t fit in the holder. After that I had more hands and the risk of tipping reduced immediately despite Gilbert’s running from side to side.
It really was fun. Beautiful morning. I was the second boat out but when I finally came back in a half dozen others were fishing. I learned others were catching fish but I was just thankful not to have tipped the boat . I had the fun of paddling and using the Honda 2.3 hp. Gilbert was most interested in another dog on another boat.
Back at the base camp Laura was up having made up the coffee I left for her.
I made bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Laura likes the bacon burnt. I loved the scrambled eggs with Mrs. Dash for seasoning. Gilbert loved licking the plates clean.
Since then I’ve gone swimming once, just enough to get the soap off.The water is still pretty cold. Laura and I have been reading books and dozing. It’s a pretty heavy schedule. A chip monk keeps running by. A red headed wood pecker came by too. We saw some bald headed eages and great hawks on the way in last night. I’ve taken Gilbert for more shorter walks in the back woods. He’s been quite content to nap along with us. The neighbours have some dogs and they’ve done the meet and greet and sniff genitals. Everyone gets along. Our neighbours are really nice people. No body doing drugs or drinking or listening to loud rap music and shouting kill the white guy.
I love my Lariat edition Ford F350. Everything goes in it and it’s a great companion.
“When I was a kid we went to a secluded cabin on a beach. You went camping with your parents. I tell my friends that we’re going out in the dirt and outdoors where there isn’t running water or showers and we have to use outhouses. They think I’m crazy. It takes a bit to get used to. I know Gilbert loves it and I’m so glad he’s having such a good time before his surgery.” Laura said.
Right now she’s back in the magnificent North Face tent enjoying the air mattress. It’s amazing how it’s stayed up this weekend since I learned how to close the valve.